Mahindra has not won its lawsuit with Fiat Chrysler Automotive as was widely reported over the weekend.
Last weekend, various news sites (mostly in India) incorrectly reported that Mahindra & Mahindra (shortened to be just “Mahindra”) had won its case in the U.S. International Trade Commission against Fiat Chrysler over the Roxor off-road vehicle.
In case you need a quick refresher, the Roxor is a small off-road-only vehicle with parts manufactured in India but assembled at Mahindra’s new plant in Detroit. We say “off-road-only” because the Roxor isn’t road-legal. It’s powered by a 4-cylinder 4-stroke 2.5-L turbodiesel that only puts out 62 hp, which isn’t enough to go very fast when the whole thing weighs over 3,000 lbs.
However, its road-legality isn’t what FCA is concerned about. Take one look and you’ll notice a distinct resemblance between the Roxor and the Wrangler. That’s by design: Mahindra used to make CJ Jeeps as early as the 1940s, using the same design under license from Willys. Then Willys went under and the Jeep license got bounced around between various companies--none of which cared a single whit about a tiny Indian company making knockoff Jeeps half a world away.
But these days Mahindra is an automotive giant, and FCA sees them as a direct existential threat to the Jeep brand. Also, FCA started manufacturing real jeeps over in India in 2017, so they’re hoping to legally shut Mahindra down before they have to worry about a little thing like competition.
Last August, FCA filed suit against Mahindra in the US to block the sale of the Roxor off-road vehicle, saying it is “a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design.” We have yet to get the court’s official position, but some sources stated the Mahindra had already won.
In fact, both FCA and Mahindra had merely reiterated their positions. In court docs obtained by Autoblog, Mahindra’s latest court brief stated: “FCA is contractually barred from pursuing this investigation if Mahindra's vehicles contain or use the approved grille design.” This might sound official, but it’s Mahindra’s opinion and not the court’s.
FCA likewise opined: "Mahindra has failed to carry its burden in showing that all of FCA's claims fall under the narrow scope of the 2009 Agreement.”
We won’t know for sure until early next year when the Trade Commission hands down their decision.